Pic of the Week 1/8/21
Location: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Date taken: 1/3/21
Well, here we are. We have arrived to 2021 and despite all the ups and downs of 2020 it was still a pretty good year for me overall. I’m not really sure what to expect this year if I’m being honest, but I do hope to be able to continue to share my photographic adventures with all of you. I wanted to start 2021 out right and to do that I made a trip to one of my favorite places: the Wichita Mountains. Nothing quite like beginning the year off surrounded by nature and history.
Medicine CircleA rock circle sits below the summit of Little Baldy in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. © Ben Jacobi
Do you see these stones in the foreground of the image? How do you suspect they got there? Are they relics left over from the native American tribes that followed the bison that once roamed the prairie? Afterall, there were established camps in the area the circle was found. Perhaps this was an impromptu conference room constructed for Jesse James and outlaws alike. There are rumors of buried treasure out in the Wichitas. Maybe, this is from the WPA days and some young men would sit here on their lunch breaks. Or maybe this was part of boy scout troop setting up a circle around the campfire. Who is to say? One thing is for sure, those stones are as old as the hills that surround them. To our local hiking group this is known as the Medicine/Indian circle and that is how I will refer to it.
Ashlee and I left early that cold crisp morning with hopes of having enough time to arrive before sunrise. After a quick stop at Braums to get some breakfast-on-the-go, we were on our way to the refuge. We arrived at the parking area with about twenty minutes to spare. Luckily, I had already scouted the location a month ago and it was only 150 yards away from the car. I grabbed my camera bag and tripod and hurried to my composition. I was relieved to find the circle undisturbed, except for a few “buffalo chips” nearby there was no evidence anyone had been here. Since its close by to the trail I was worried it might be moved or vandalized. Thankfully, neither of those happened.
What I envisioned for this shot was an ultra-wide angle view of the circle with wonderful morning light falling on the face of Little Baldy. I had been waiting on an opportunity to capture this photo, so I knew exactly where and how to set up my camera. I made sure to lower my tripod almost to ground level to minimize the middle ground and bring those stones in close. What I discovered when I used my wide angle is that I got an excellent foreground. I also really liked the way the lens exaggerated the shape and size of the circle. What I did not like, however, was how small it made Little Baldy in the frame. This is the downside to ultra-wide angle lenses. Objects in the background appear smaller and farther away. To combat this parallax, I did a technique known as “focal length blending”.
Basically, I combined one photo at 15mm with the ultra-wide angle and then zoomed into 30mm on just the mountain and took another photo. I then blended those two together to create the final image. The result is a wide angle foreground with a more normal background. This keeps Little Baldy as an important element to the image. I was quite happy with how this image turned out, although I would have liked to see more clouds in the sky. Maybe, I’ll try again under more favorable conditions. But overall it was not a bad way to start out 2021.